Meetings with TOCs, Key Train Requirements and East West Rail

Meetings with train operating companies

We were pleased that Great Western Railway agreed to meet with us in February. GWR and their new IET trains have caused many complaints amongst new parents as no space for pushchairs is provided on board. Instead parents are left sitting in vestibule areas or babies and toddlers sleeping in the bicycle storage cupboards. We discussed our (often poor) experiences of travelling on GWR services with children, and our hopes for more space for pushchairs.

We were delighted that they had come prepared with some of their own suggestions on how to make train travel better for families with young children. We hope to see some of them become a reality in the near future.

One thing that GWR have already changed is their website. Previously children had been considered together with “small animals” but now they have their own dedicated page. A small victory, but we’re hopeful it indicates a change in mindset and perhaps the start of something bigger.

The old version of GWR’s website lumped children together with small animals, but they have very different needs and expectations!
The new page on GWR’s website for travelling with children

We followed up the meeting with GWR with a series of meetings with other train operating companies including Avanti, LNER and East Midlands Railway. We are pleased that these companies are engaging with us. It’s fair to say they all understand there is a problem, although not all of them thought that the train operating companies had the power to make the changes we would like to see.

Consultation responses

With that in mind, as well as meeting with train operating companies, we have also responded to various consultations.

In February we wrote to the Rail Delivery Group asking for changes to the Key Train Requirements document which specifies what should be included on new trains. We proposed a change to a current clause describing “buggy storage” to make it suitable for unfolded buggies and an essential (rather than desirable) criteria. We also argued that the seat reservation system should be extended to storage for pushchairs. The consultation responses are currently being reviewed and we hope to be invited to an upcoming meeting of the drafting group to argue our case.

In May we responded to the East West rail consultation to make sure that the railway meets the needs of young children, mainly by ensuring the trains that will use the new line include space for pushchairs.

A new website

Finally, we have recently launched our website: www.familyfriendlytrains.com. We hope to add more material in the coming months.

Would you like to get involved in this (or anything else)? If so, please get in touch!